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on 18 September 2011
It is probably worthwhile persevering with this prolix, not to say sprawling work. There are some impressive and insightful analyses of key documents in the history of medieval Spain. There are insights into the workings of Spanish cities, the Spanish Church and the various Spanish courts, as well as into historical, theological, canon law, and sociological aspects of anti-Semitism in Spain.You get at least an impression of the range of scholarship which this topic has attracted through the ages, though the author claims the origins, as opposed to the activities, of the Spanish Inquisition had attracted too little interest before his endeavours.
It has, I think, several major faults, the first of which is its length, bulked out by repetitions and reviews and made made worse by a ponderously careful ushering of the reader through his arguments. "Before we turn to this, we must review the ...". He also on many occasions launches into what can only be described as riffs on various themes, ostensibly detailing the inward workings of minds or motivations, (Ferdinand's motivation in setting up the Inquisition is the last example of this sweeping approach to history) These are extremely plausible but would be more convincing if he cited any evidence on which they are based, but this he does rarely. (As opposed to his documentary analyses, which he normally annotates at least minimally). Unfortunately, the book seems to take for granted a knowledge of the basic chronology, and personages, of medieval Spanish history. As he jumps about a lot you need to stay alert to know where you are. As for his basic hypothesis, I can accept that anti-converso sentiment was a continuation of millennia old anti-Semitism, but find it difficult to see any evidence that this was largely a plebeian sentiment, used by the upper classes for other purposes. He states this quite frequently, and refers to riots as proof, but as the main agents of action were always from the upper classes, I think it more likely that this is where the sentiment was historically transmitted.
I was continually frustrated by the books faults in structure, language and historical approach. But I was impressed by the sweep of the endeavour, the passion of the writer and the fascination of the basic subject - a centuries long attempt by a government to eradicate or impoverish a section of its people. I am glad I persevered to the end of the book.
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on 27 May 2016
Book in excellent condition.
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on 1 March 2011
Very good
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